Google search personalization works to provide a tailored experience to the user. However, Google personalization can also be troublesome for businesses who need help tracking search engine results. A few small tricks to eliminate Google personalization can provide more realistic results.
Everyone knows that Google bases search results on a company’s website ranking. What is less commonly understood is that Google also bases search results on the search engine user himself. Google is actually a personalized experience; nobody sees the exact same thing in their search engine. Google search personalization works with various aspects that it picks up from a device to tailor results to the individual user. The two main components of Google personalization are based on geographic location and personal history and usage. While personalized Google search engine results can be useful in finding what an individual wants, it is problematic for businesses tracking search engine results. This leads to the question, how do I know what I am seeing is accurate? Attention to a few simple aspects of your search engine before performing your search can help you get the most accurate results.
The first factor that usually causes search engine results to be skewed is geography. Search engine results change based on country location. This is the easiest factor of Google personalization to understand. Each country uses different websites, companies, and even looks for different searches. This is for reasons of language, accessibility, cultural tastes, and differences in Google Algorithms. If your site is not considered relevant in a particular country, it will not appear in search engine results. So, if you are trying to take your business to the international level, beware that your results at home do not translate to those abroad.
While country differences do not impact all businesses, precise locality is extremely important and impacts all businesses without them even realizing it. Google search engine results are tailored to the user’s exact city or metropolitan area. This means that your result in one city, in which your business is quite popular, may be totally different from the next city over, because your internet marketing strategy does not cater to that locality.
Based on location, the first key for how to turn off Google personalization is to check your location. Under the ‘search tools’ tab of the Google bar above search results, there is an option to select location. Then, you have a choice of whether to use preset locations, have google use your current location, or search to set a location of your choice. Then, you can see how you rank in different locations and know where you stand apart from only your own location.
Even more complex than location is the element of personal history in the process of Google personalization. Google search engine results are based on your personal search history. In the same way that Google knows what ads to give you based on the past websites you have been on, it gives top search results based on what you have already searched. For example, a past client of Design & Promote was a high profile Chicago Lawyer. After reading some negative reviews about his firm, he continued to search and read them. When he looked up his firm, the negative review came up as #3 in the Google search engine results. Panicked, he contacted Design & Promote, who did not find the result until page 3. Ultimately, it was Google search personalization that picked up that the lawyer was interested in this particular result, and bumped it up to one of the top spots for his search results only. Tracking search engine results is thus difficult due to the fact that Google remembers previous interests or searches and adjusts results accordingly.
Luckily, there are tools to help minimize Google personalization as well. First and foremost, you need to disable customization before you can properly start tracking search engine results. To do so, the first step is to log out of your Google account. Google keeps you logged into your Gmail or Google + account, which is why you will notice your name or photo in the top right corner. Then, the second step is to click the tool gear in the right corner of Google and go to the history. Click on “disable customization”. This will eliminate customized Google search engine results. Be sure to check this feature often, as it is not a permanent feature and will turn back on over time, and must be applied to each individual browser.
The other tool is to disable tracking search and website history. Again, this must be done in every browser individually, as it is browser independent. Each web browser has a different name for the feature, but then end result is always to not track internet history. On Google Chrome, the feature is called “gone incognito”; on Firefox, it is called “new private window”. In internet explorer, the feature is called “insafety browsing”.
Understanding how to turn off Google personalization will allow you to see your business in an unbiased search engine. If you do not turn off personalization, you will not get accurate results. Go a step further and hire Design & Promote to keep track of accurate ranking and keyword results for your business; we run the tools necessary to know how your website is doing in the search engines every week for quick and precise results.